British Columbia’s first case of monkeypox has been detected in a Vancouver patient.
The BC Centre for Disease Control confirmed the infection through laboratory testing, it said Monday, and is awaiting further confirmation from the National Microbiology Laboratory.
Vancouver Coastal Health is conducting a public health follow-up, a news release said.
On Monday, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix reiterated the message that monkeypox poses a “very low” risk to the public.
“Monkeypox has been around for decades as members of the media will be well aware,” he said.
“We want to make sure that everyone is aware and knows about this issue, and is aware of all the steps being taken to support this individual, this individual’s close contacts and the community.”
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Since May, more than 700 cases of monkeypox have been found in non-endemic countries, primarily in Europe, according to the BC CDC. As of June 3, there were 77 confirmed cases in Canada, with 71 in Quebec, five in Ontario and one in Alberta.
“The risk of monkeypox to the general public is very low,” the centre said. “There is no need for the general public to get vaccinated.”
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Monkeypox spreads through contact with sores and items like bedding or towels that have the virus on them. It can also spread through respiratory droplets, distributed by coughs or sneezes.
It isn’t known to spread through semen, vaginal or rectal fluids, the centre added, but it can transmit through close contact during sexual activity.
“Anyone, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, could get infected and spread the virus if they come into close contact, including intimate sexual contact with an infected person or a contaminated object,” Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said in a Friday briefing.
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Symptoms consist primarily of skin lesions on the mouth and genitals, and can also include fever, headaches and joint and muscle pain, according to the World Health Organization.
Monkeypox cases in Canada are suspected to have originated from a sauna in Montreal, doctors have told Global News.
However, government officials have so far stayed clear of confirming the origin in Canada, citing concerns of privacy and stigmatization.
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The CDC advised people who have been exposed to monkeypox to monitor for symptoms, which can present between five and 21 days after exposure.
Anyone who develops symptoms is asked to visit a health-care professional, wear a mask and cover the lesions, and inform the clinic ahead of time.
They should also limit close contact, including sexual contact, with others, it added.
– With files from Aya Al-Hakim
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